Mobile Shopping Startup Snapette Snapped Up by PriceGrabber

8/20/13Follow @curtwoodward

After ping-ponging around the country on a thoroughly contemporary startup journey, mobile shopping startup Snapette has been acquired by veteran e-commerce company PriceGrabber, giving the Los Angeles-based parent company a shot of mobile-tech DNA.

Terms of the deal between the two private companies were not disclosed, but it sounds like a happy enough ending for the Snapette crew. Co-founder and CEO Sarah Paiji told me that Snapette—which raised about $1.5 million in seed funding—was looking at either raising more venture money, or finding an acquirer.

With the Series A crunch a reality for the legions of newly seed-funded digital startups, finding a home where Snapette can grow with bigger backing is a nice result, particularly for a pair of first-time founders in Paiji and Jinhee Ahn Kim.

“For them, traditionally a Web business, they continue to see mobile and local as huge opportunities for them,” Paiji said. “We bring like a nice sort of startup culture to a fairly large company that’s been around for about 10 years.”

PriceGrabber is one of three businesses spun out of credit-reporting company Experian last year, sold to their own management after a previous deal with an Indian company fell through. Paiji said the entire Snapette team of nine people will continue to operate in New York and work on their existing roadmap of projects, which includes the incorporation of new e-commerce features in the mobile app.

That’s a big step for Snapette, which was previously more of a marketing platform. The app featured fashion-product images, allowing retailers to show mobile-savvy shoppers what they were offering for sale in their stores—a hot new pair of shoes or the new fall clothing collection, for instance.

The startup was making money already with that approach, charging merchants for the right to to be featured on the app. Paiji said Snapette had accumulated about 1.5 million active users and about 200 retailers and product brands, including Nordstrom, Nine West, and Ann Taylor.

Advertising money is a fine way to build a business, but making the final connection between shopper and merchant is where the real money is. Paiji said shoppers will get the ability to make direct purchases in a new version of the Snapette Android app coming this week, with the iOS version coming soon as well.

“I think people’s habits on mobile have changed in the past year or two years,” Paiji said. “Initially, people were doing a lot of local searches on their phones, but now I think people are using their phones as their primary way of accessing the Web.”

Shifting gears to emphasize e-commerce takes a whole new set of skills, of course. And plugging into national and even international retailers is the kind of work that will be much easier as part of PriceGrabber, which already has an established e-commerce business that has supplied shopping data for Yahoo, About.com, AOL, Bing, and others.

Snapette took a pretty circuitous route to this safe startup landing. The company was started in the Boston area by Harvard alums, moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to participate in the 500 Startups accelerator program, and finally landed in New York. The Snapette team will stay in New York after the acquisition, Paiji said.

 

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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